Alas, I am that teacher, the one who makes 7th grade students cry. Not with my rapier wit or sarcasm, tempting as those weapons are. No, I have them read a book about a boy and his beloved dogs, a story told from the heart.
“Because good fiction is powerful,” I tell them. “I want you to understand how a well-written story can reach into the human heart.” I’m the fiction writing teacher. I say stuff like that.
Wilson Rawls published only two books, and it took time for Red Fern to gain popularity. “The best horse doesn’t always win the race,” the Irish say. But now this book is regarded as a must-read for 9 to 14-year-olds. And for grownups too…
Red Fern’s setting comes from Rawls’ childhood experiences. He was not well educated–a thing he was embarrassed about–but he sure knew how to tell a story. There’s a lot of wisdom in those pages.
Every year I have students tell me that Where the Red Fern Grows is now their favorite book. If you’re looking for a heart-warming read, why not give this book a try? It’s about a lot more than a boy and his dogs.